1. Finding Mr Mark 

There is no proper Christian who has never prayed for divine direction, because we always want to make the right choice – in marriage, career, housing, business, travels, etc.  We ask God for guidance because we do not know the best way.  Unfortunately, we frequently miss our way because we often fail to heed provided landmarks.  Sometimes the misses are so painful that they leave us with the nagging sadness as of a highly favoured team that missed a decisive penalty in the dying seconds of a very crucial game.

When one guides another, it is traditional to give directions with recognizable indications, so that the other can tell where they have reached when they see those indications or landmarks.  For example, you might say to a stranger seeking direction, “To get to Mr Mark’s house, take the second street left, where you find a tall mango tree.  Walk about a minute down that street to the Catholic cathedral to your right, then take the road opposite it.  Walk down two minutes until you get to the tall telecommunication mast.  The green-roof bungalow next to it is his house.” The landmarks are: second street left, tall mango tree, Catholic cathedral, telecommunication mast, green-roof bungalow.  If any of those landmarks should be missing at the indicated place, there is bound to be confusion, delay, frustration, or even a termination of the trip.  It is one thing to obey instructions and walk in a given direction, it is another to find the landmarks. 

What if there was no Catholic cathedral as the stranger walked down the second street?  What if there was no telecommunication mast where the direction had said it would be found?  What if the roof of the house had been painted black just a day before, and there were other bungalows with the same roof colour? For any of those missing landmarks, the stranger could have been lost and Mr Mark never found.  Then, all the obedient left turns and right turns would have been a wasted investment of time and labour.

  1. Divine Landmarks 

God also gives landmarks when He guides His own.  For example, when Jesus sent two of His disciples to go and find the place for the last Passover that He was going to have with them, the Scripture says,

10 He replied, “As soon as you enter Jerusalem, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. At the house he enters, 11 say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ 12 He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal.” 13 They went off to the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there (Luke 22:10-13, New Living Translation).

Jesus not only sent the two men, He also gave them landmarks: the entrance to the city, a man, a man in motion, a man in motion with a pitcher of water, not a broken or empty pitcher on a cart. Obeying and going was commendable, finding the landmarks was crucial.

There was a house owner for whom a message was coming from the Master.  There was a privileged guestroom that should keep an appointment with the Messiah.  There was going to be a historic Passover feast to which the world would ever refer.  There were disciples to be briefed before a crucial night of betrayal and trials, and a next day of blood and sacrifice.  All of that seemed to hang not merely on the commendable obedience of the disciples to the Master’s instructions sending them to the appointed place, but also on finding the specified landmarks when they got there.

If the man had thrown away his pitcher just before the disciples met him, they would have been unable to identify him from among the many other pitcher-less strollers down the city streets.  Disciples as they were, on the Master’s mission as they were, they would still have been verily confused and that Passover feast threatened, all for one landmark of a pitcher ditched.

  1. She Might Have Missed Her Man 

Many times we were unfound by whom God sent, or we ourselves missed someone or something that we should have found, because, on a crucial day, a pitcher was ditched by someone who wanted to ‘walk free’ like all other men.  Many of those cases we might never know until we see the Master.  Did the pitcher-man know that he was Heaven’s important signpost on that day?  No.  The pitcher of water might have been his simple daily routine, but that day, it was going to mean much more; something on which history and destinies hung.

I was at a meeting during which the word of God came to a woman, that a husband was coming to ‘find’ her, but she had to change her strange attires, because that was not whom he was expecting to find.  It was her fashion, it was her preference, but that was not the pitcher that someone was out to find.  If she insisted on that fashion, he was not going to find her.  But for that prophetic encounter, she might have missed her man and never known what she had lost, while she continued to pray her prayers for a husband who since had come and passed, because she carried the wrong pitcher, or none, when Passover came.

When Jesus was going to enter Jerusalem triumphantly, He commissioned two disciples. (He often sent them out in twos. Why?) He said to them,

Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him (Mark 11:2)

Jesus gave them the address and the landmarks to find when they got there: not in the city but the village, not every village but the one “over against you.”  They were likely to find many colts or donkeys that day, but their appointment was with the one tied.

  1. The Helplessness of God 

Supposing the donkey had somehow untied itself before the messengers got there?  You might say, Well, God knows everything.  If there was going to be a ‘change in plans,’ He would also have known about it and alerted them accordingly.  True, but not always so.  God respects human choices.  If that colt were a man whom God had told to remain there, but he had rebelled and fled, would God have forced him?  Very unlikely.  The Lord’s pattern is, “Whom shall I send, and who will [willingly] go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8).  Paradoxically, God is sometimes helpless against the power of human choice on the earth (John 3:16; 5:6).

An angel was sent to Papa Zechariah with the promise of a child after years and years of ‘fruitless’ prayers.  Thankfully, that priest was at the altar, at his duty post, where the angel could find him when he came.  Supposing Zechariah had tired and said, “God, I am not serving anymore.  There has been nothing to show for all my previous years of service,” and if that priest had thus been absent from the altar that day, the angel might have missed him when he got to that hallowed address that God had given (Luke 1:10).

Is the Omnipresent God sometimes specific about addresses?  Yes.  When God sent off Prophet Elijah into hiding, He sent him to the brook Cherith where the birds were to serve his breakfast and dinner.  If the prophet had fled that ‘harsh’ environment for lovelier climes, the birds would not have been to blame if they took their meals to that address but could not find him.  If Elijah therefore died of hunger, it would not have been because the Lord did not provide.  It would have been because the man missed his address, and the messengers had not found the landmarks that God had specified to them.

  1. A Prayer 

Some pitchers might seem very insignificant, yet they could be crucial landmarks someday to a seeker coming your way. A blessed evening at the upper room, a time with the Master, a message from heaven at a critical time… all could be missed for one pitcher ditched, or for a wrong pitcher carried.

There is coming a message from God to you at the city entrance.  May you not be unfindable or be mistaken when it comes.  The messengers will be looking for a moving man with a pitcher of water.

O Lord, open our ears to hear well the instructions from on high and our eyes to see well the landmarks that You give; and may the donkeys and pitchers be findable this Passover by whom You are sending our way, or by us whom You would send their way.  Amen.

From The Preacher’s diary,
August 23, 2023.  

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